TV personality and former pop idol Chiemi Hori, 52, said she has been diagnosed with stage 4 tongue cancer — the most advanced stage of the disease — in an official blog post published Tuesday.
Hori also revealed that the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes in the left side of her neck.
“I’m in a very difficult situation,” wrote Hori, who debuted as a singer in 1982 and became a national sensation after her appearance in the 1983 TV drama “Stewardess Monogatari” (“A Stewardess’s Story”), which portrayed Japan Airline Co. trainee cabin attendants.
Hori said she was admitted to hospital Tuesday and will undergo surgery to remove the tumors in her neck and more than half of her tongue on Friday. The operation, which is expected to take more than 12 hours, will also involve grafting skin onto the places where parts of the tongue will have been removed, she wrote.
“I won’t lose this battle,” she said. “I will fight with all my strength and make a comeback for sure.”
Hori said that she first spotted small canker sores on the back of her tongue around the summer of 2018. Although she tried prescribed medical creams, adhesive patches, vitamins and several rounds of laser treatment, the condition did not improve and even worsened, the blog post said.
Even after the turn of the year, the number of lumps on her tongue continued to grow, sending severe pain through the left side of her tongue, she said. It had made it difficult for her to eat, speak and sleep, she wrote.
Hori said that searching online for information on tongue cancers turned up images showing similar symptoms to what she was experiencing, prompting her to rush to a hospital for examination on Jan. 21. She received the test results on Feb. 4, when she was officially diagnosed with oral cancer.